Franz Ferdinand's assassination: Centenary events and the story of the Archduke

By Culture24 Reporter | 27 June 2014

Hear a podcast and peruse a few events as the centenary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand recalls the day which sparked the First World War

A monochrome light brown photo of an early 20th century duke with a moustache
Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his impressive moustache© The Library of Congress
A century ago today, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was murdered in a plot by young Bosnian Serb terrorists intent on breaking free from the rulers Ferdinand would have succeeded.

A photo of an early 20th century duke and his family in posh attire
Ferdinand with his wife Sophie and their three children in 1910© IWM
Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke and his wife, Sophie, during a visit to Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary then declared war on Serbia, blaming their neighbours for aiding the murder. The incident immediately became a symbol of the distrust between the two countries.

Their rift ensnared their allies. On August 1, Germany – holding Austria-Hungary as its only reliable ally – declared war on the Serbia-supporting Russians, adding France to its hit-list two days later in a move which prompted British Foreign Secretary to outline the perilous situation in a speech to Parliament.

His fears were confirmed the following day, when Germany flouted a peace treaty by invading Belgium. After Germany ignored a British ultimatum to withdraw, war between the two countries meant Britain’s global empire was embroiled.

Listen to the 1914.org podcast for more.

Events marking the 100th anniversary:

A black and white photo of a blood splattered uniform
The bloodstained uniform of the Archduke went on display following his assassination© LIFE Magazine
The Lives of the First World War, Woolwich Great Get Together Festival and Armed Forces Day (today) Meet Imperial War Museum experts and find out how to help piece together the stories of more than eight million men and women in uniform and on the home front

Michael Naxton, Reading Museum (today) The curator of the Lord Ashcroft Collection gives an illustrated talk with “extraordinary tales” of the highest military award for gallantry

Tracing your First World War Ancestor, The Society of Genealogists (today) An all-day workshop with expert Simon Fowler

British Schools Museum (opens today) Exhibition demonstrating how the conflict affected the British Schools, its scholars and teachers and the town of Hitchin

1914: When the World Changed Forever, York Castle Museum (opens today) This exhibition will reveal the terror of total war and its revolutionary impact on life around the world. Visitors will be sent to the recruitment office and travel via train to the horrors of the front line, from rats to foot rot and shell shock to gas warfare

LIFT 2014, Battersea Arts Centre (until tomorrow) Stan’s Cafe will use several thousand dominoes to demonstrate the impact of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination

Garden Quarter Remembers Festival, Chester (until July 9) A nine-day programme of events

Letter to an Unknown Soldier Campaign inviting everyone in the country to pause and write a letter to the unknown solider who stands unnamed in Paddington Station

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More on the First World War Centenary:

First World War photographic competition aims to capture UK stone memorials

Imperial War Museum London relaunches in July with two new art exhibitions

Imperial War Museum launches "extraordinary" Lives of the First World War memorial
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